Fencing is tough to practice on your own.  In fact, it is nearly impossible to simulate the fencing piste in the privacy of your living room.  You can “shadow box” a little, but that is about the limit.

What a fencer can do is cross-train for the rigors of the tournament, and the options here are limitless.  I highly recommend HIIT–high intensity interval training.  I’ve written about this in a previous blog, but let’s look a the process in more detail.

The FIE rules indicate that a fencing bout must end at the 3 minute mark.  That’s 3 minutes of fencing time.  The stopwatch clicks off when the director calls, “…halt.”  The watch clicks on again when he orders, “…fence.”  This means that many bouts last around 5 minutes.  During that time there are plenty of quick stops and sudden starts.  Fencing requires bursts of activity much like racquetball, squash or tennis.

High intensity drills simulate this activity nicely.  For example, let’s use the Tabata method of HIIT.  You are standing on the gym floor and you decide to do “squat thrusts.”  Your timer starts and you do 20 seconds of squat thrusts as quickly as possible.  Perform as many reps as you can in 20 seconds.  The timer sounds and you stop and rest of 10 seconds–only 10!  The timer sounds again and you do 20 seconds of squat thrusts for the second round.  This activity continues for a total of 8 rounds.  The entire time spent is 4 minutes.  (20 + 10 x 8).  You’ll, likely, be exhausted a the end of the 4 minutes, and you’ll need to pause before starting other drills.

But think about it.  The 20 seconds of activity simulates the fencing action.  The 10 seconds of rest simulates the halt time between points.  4 minutes simulates the approximate time of the entire bout.

Try this Tabata routine with nearly any high repetition drills including: running sprints, rowing sprints, lunges, push-ups, kettlebell snatches.  Almost any drill can be turned into a HIIT.  Experiment and have fun seeing the positive results.

Mark Brandyberry

Foilist at River City Fencing


Twittering @rivercityfence